Tailoring composite laminates to vary the fiber orientations within a fiber layer of a laminate to address non-uniform stress states and provide structural advantages such as the alteration of principal load paths has potential application to future low-cost, light-weight structures for commercial transport aircraft. Evaluation of this approach requires the determination of the effectiveness of stiffness tailoring through the use of curvilinear fiber paths in flat panels including the reduction of stress concentrations around the holes and the increase in load carrying capability. Panels were designed through the use of an optimization code using a genetic algorithm and fabricated using a tow-steering approach. Manufacturing limitations, such as the radius of curvature of tows the machine could support, avoidance of wrinkling of fibers and minimization of gaps between fibers were considered in the design process. Variable stiffness tow-steered panels constructed with curvilinear fiber paths were fabricated so that the design methodology could be verified through experimentation. Finite element analysis where each element s stacking sequence was accurately defined is used to verify the behavior predicted based on the design code. Experiments on variable stiffness flat panels with central circular holes were conducted with the panels loaded in axial compression or shear. Tape and tow-steered panels are used to demonstrate the buckling, post-buckling and failure behavior of elastically tailored panels. The experimental results presented establish the buckling performance improvements attainable by elastic tailoring of composite laminates.